Debra Galant,
(St. Martin's Press, 2006)

Rattled is a story of opposing viewpoints. The tale is set in the idyllic countryside of New Jersey's Hebron Township. Historically a farm village, over the last decade Hebron Township has been overtaken by wealthy New York and Connecticut commuters looking for spacious McMansions.

Main characters include Harlan White, the five-decade plus benchwarmer at the country store. While others have sold out to greedy developers, Harlan has kept his land. He's discovered a market for expensive organic and free-range eggs (with all the hip new residents), and he lives off his chicken farm despite the fact that he could pocket a huge sum if he sold it. The reader is also introduced to Heather Peters, a stereotypical chick-lit narrator. She's the master of complaints, calling any merchant or developer on the chopping block when they don't meet her ridiculous requests. When she spends a night in jail on trumped-up charges, she demands an accommodation-evaluation form so she can lodge her complaints about the facility. The third main character is a ruthless real estate developer who built Heather's 200-house paradise, failing to mention that his ultimate plan was to buy out Harlan White and build another 800 homes, ruining Heather's illusion of countryside isolation.

Oh, and there appear to be some dozens of rattlesnakes living in the housing development area.

Yes, Debra Galant's characters are over-the-top, almost to the point of being self-caricatures, especially in the case of Heather. That just makes this book all the more delightful! The action is larger than life, but Galant manages to execute a resolution in which the good guys win, the bad guys lose and the characters on the fence manage to change the course of their lives for the better. Pick this novel up for a light, fun read. There's still time to take this one to the beach in 2006!

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
14 October 2006

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